Friday, 21 January 2011


Two weeks after my choir was formed, a new girl joined us. She sat next to me and we got to know each other through 30 second slots of whispered small talk interspersed with six minutes of full voiced warbling. Two or three practices later and we met during the week to watch our children tear around together while we gassed, scoffed cake and cuddled the babies in the garden. We share a number of similarities in our circumstances: we are both foreigners married to kiwis, have children exactly the same age and love singing ancient music. I love her understated manner which is underpinned by a mischievious and clever humour. She asked me what I do.

'I'm a freelance writer'

'What kind of stuff do you you write?'

'Oh, all sorts. Articles for fashion magazines, press releases, newsletters for companies, anything anyone asks me to do really. In the back of my mind I have a desire to write a book sometime in the future.'

'I've written a book' she says.

I choke on some crumbs. 'Have you really?' I'm boggle eyed in admiration.

I spent the next two months trying to persuade her to give me the almost finished manuscript to read. She was reluctant and her main worry was that I would read it and tell her it was good when I really thought it was crap in order to maintain our friendship. I assured her that honesty would be my guiding force and that I would note any comments, good and bad. The following Sunday she gave me a manila folder containing a huge wedge of printed A4 sheets. The enormity of the effort she has put into this venture whilst bringing up two small children and running a farm with her husband made me shift uncomfortably from foot to foot. 'Erm, if it's absolutely shit I am going to lie and tell you it's brilliant.' I say guiltily.

Luckily there is no need for friendship saving fibs. What a damned good yarn. Where on earth does that level of intricacy come from within a person? Astonishing. Writing a book must be like living a double life. You have to ensure that each detail dovetails with every other in the world you create and unfold as readers are an unforgiving, critical bunch. In order to create a great story the research and writing must be meticulously accurate and credible. I can't wait until she's written the final installment.
photo of the lad by

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